Backcountry Permits - Hiking (US): How to get a permit.




Backcountry Permits - Hiking (US): How to get a permit.

US National Parks that offer extensive backcountry areas for hiking, backpacking, and camping, and the permits required.

Permits are the golden tickets to the untamed wilderness. When you're gearing up for an expedition off the beaten path, securing the right permits is like unlocking the door to nature's best kept secrets. The backcountry is a delicate balance of ecosystems, and permits are the passes that keep it all in harmony. National parks, wilderness areas, and even some forests require permits for backcountry access to ensure sustainable recreation and preserve the beauty for generations to come. Permitting requirements can vary widely depending on the specific park or wilderness area.

A few examples of parks that commonly require permits for hiking:

Backcountry areas in National Parks: many national parks, such as Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and Rocky Mountain National Park, require permits for backcountry camping and, in some cases, day hiking.

Wilderness Areas: managed by agencies like the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), often require permits for overnight trips and sometimes for day hikes.

Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and Appalachian Trail (AT): thru-hikers and section hikers on long-distance trails like the PCT and AT may need permits for certain sections, especially in popular areas.

Slot Canyons in the Southwest: parks like Zion National Park and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument may require permits for certain slot canyon hikes due to their popularity and the need to manage visitor impact.

Special Use Areas: some parks have specific areas or trails that require permits due to environmental concerns, cultural sensitivity, or to manage visitor use. For example, The Wave in Vermilion Cliffs National Monument requires a permit.

Some of the National Parks with backcountry areas & Contact info for backcountry permits:

Yosemite National Park (California): known for its stunning granite cliffs, waterfalls, and diverse ecosystems.

Website: https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/wildpermits.htm

+1 (209) 372-0826

The lottery for Yosemite backcountry permits typically opens in late October or early November and closes in mid-November. Exact dates may vary, so it's best to check the park's website for updates closer to the time.

Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona): famous for its immense size and intricate landscape carved by the Colorado River.

Website: https://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/backcountry-permit.htm

+1 (928) 638-7875

The lottery for Grand Canyon backcountry permits typically opens in February and closes in mid-March. Again, it's advisable to check the park's website for exact dates and any updates.

Glacier National Park (Montana): renowned for its glacier-carved peaks and pristine wilderness.

Website:  https://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/backcountry.htm

+1 (406) 888-7800

Email: glac_backcountry@nps.gov

Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming, Montana, Idaho): home to geothermal features like geysers and hot springs, as well as diverse wildlife.

Website: https://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/backcountry.htm

+1 (307) 344-2160

The lottery for Yellowstone backcountry permits typically opens in the spring, around March or April, and closes a few weeks later. Exact dates may vary, so it's recommended to check the park's website.

Zion National Park (Utah): known for its towering red cliffs and narrow slot canyons.

Website: https://www.nps.gov/zion/planyourvisit/wilderness-permit.htm

Website: Zion National Park Wilderness Permits

+1 (435) 772-0170

Email: ZION_Wilderness_Permits@nps.gov

Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado): has stunning mountain scenery, alpine lakes, and diverse wildlife.

Website: Rocky Mountain National Park Backcountry Camping (Wilderness Backcountry Permit System)

In-person: at the Wilderness Center -  Beaver Meadows Visitors Center

+1 (970) 586-1242

The lottery system for obtaining a backcountry permit typically opens in early spring, usually in March or April, and closes in April or May. The specific dates can vary from year to year, so check the park's website for the most up-to-date information.

To apply for a backcountry permit in these parks, you typically need to visit the park's official website or contact the park's backcountry office directly. Each park has its own specific process for obtaining permits, which may include filling out an online application, submitting a reservation request by mail, or participating in a lottery system.

The lottery opening and closing dates for backcountry permits vary by park and can change from year to year. It's best to check each park's website for the most up-to-date information on lottery dates and deadlines. Popular trails and areas often have limited permits available, so it's advisable to plan and apply well in advance.

Day hiking in National Parks typically does not require a permit unless you plan to hike into designated wilderness areas or participate in activities like canyoneering or overnight backpacking. Check specific rules & regulations for each park before your visit.

Always follow Leave No Trace principles to protect these beautiful natural resources.

Don't want to miss anything?

Get weekly updates on the newest gear stories, sports and tips right in your mailbox.


Download the App
on iPhone and Android.

Make your orders and sales faster with our crossplatform application

App StoreGoogle Pay
App Design